Accelerators, Corporates, Hubs, Startup Studios

The Daily Crash

by: Pat Riley, CEO|

March 6, 2024

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Articles | Accelerators | The Daily Crash

Resetting our bodies to experience hope, joy, drive, and motivation.

Dopamine has been all the rage lately, in large part because of podcasts and books like these.
Dopamine is known as the “pleasure hormone.” When it’s released, we feel good. For instance, here is how much dopamine is released with each of the following activities:

There’s a reason why people play video games and do drugs. The dopamine hits they provide make us feel good. 
Listening to music, working, having an interesting experience, and laughing with friends all increase dopamine levels as well, albeit more naturally than most of the activities on the chart.
Yet, what’s interesting about dopamine (both natural and unnatural) is that for every dopamine spike from a stimulus (i.e., food, video games, drugs, etc.), there is an opposite reaction that looks like this:

Anne Lemke, author of Dopamine Nation, describes it like this:
“One of the most fascinating findings in neuroscience in the last 75 years is that the same areas of the brain that process pleasure also process pain and that pleasure and pain work like a balance. So if you imagine that in your brain, there’s a teeter-totter…
When that pleasure/pain balance tilts to the side of pain after the experience of pleasure, that pain is subjectively experienced as a number of different things. One of [them] is a subjective feeling of being uncomfortable, restless, irritable, unhappy and wanting to re-create the feeling of pleasure. But that’s also in many ways what craving is: wanting to have the pleasure, again, being preoccupied with eliminating the experience of pain that we feel in the aftermath. And I will say, too, it’s very reflexive. It’s not like I’m even consciously aware of that aftereffect or the comedown. It can be very subtle, but I’m just sort of aware of wanting to have another piece of chocolate.”
Simply put – after we experience a peak in dopamine, our bodies typically feel “uncomfortable, restless, irritable, unhappy and [want] to re-create the feeling of pleasure.” That dopamine deficit or ‘crash’ must happen for us to return to a baseline level of dopamine in the body. That baseline ensures we return to homeostasis. 
Yet, instead of letting our bodies feel that pain, many of us typically go back to the dopamine well, craving more and more of the stimuli that released dopamine in the first place.
But there’s an issue with that (strategy).
If we don’t endure the “crash” and return to our baseline, the next day we’ll need even more stimuli to experience the same peak in dopamine. And, without dopamine, we wouldn’t feel joy, hope, drive, and motivation.
That is, unless we lean into the daily crash…

Leaning Into the Crash

Almost everyone reading this has a similar routine. We go to work in the morning, work all day, come home, and go to bed. Yet, our experiences of that same routine can be quite different. 
Some people jump from thing to thing. Not slowing down. Not getting away. Not resetting. Not feeling the “uncomfortable, restless, irritable, unhappy” feelings that typically come after great experiences, multiple stimuli, or stressful days.
And their lives show it. They struggle with stress, motivation, drive, focus, and sleep.
Yet, there are others whose lives seem peaceful, calm, and focused.
And, if any of us asked them why their lives seem peaceful, calm, and focused, I bet they would answer with something like:
They feel the crash.
Instead of going from phone to TV to computer at night, they end their days with a prayer or meditation.
They go for a walk.
They journal.
They talk with their partner.
They feel the day, both the good and bad of it.
They absorb the momentum of the day instead of turning away from it.
They do so not because they always love the quiet or are passionate about journaling.
They do it because they know they need to process everything that happened to them that day or the day before, which doesn’t always feel good. 
Because without feeling the crash of the day, there’s a good chance that a larger crash may be on the horizon. 
So today, may you feel the daily crash—and help the founders and employees you work alongside do the same—to avoid a larger crash and ensure that you continue to feel the joy, hope, drive, and motivation you need to live a meaningful life and be productive at work.